Community Drug Awareness & Education for Parents

 

 
 
TIPS FOR TALKING WITH YOUR CHILD ABOUT DRUGS
from Chief Kenneth Smith

   Although such topics as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs are emotionally charged, they are a natural and necessary part of communicating process you have with your child. Clearly, the best time for such a conversation about drugs is when your child brings up the topic. As hard as this may be to believe, some children actually do this. For most parents, however, it’s not this easy and it may become your responsibility to raise the subject. You’ll want to pick a time and a place that make it possible for you and your child to be comfortable and undisturbed.

Remember that the purpose of this encounter is communication, so listen to everything your child has to say. Observe his or her nonverbal cues – they will let you know how he or she feels about having this conversation. Listening means paying special attention to what is said, both verbally and non-verbally.

Communicating with your child about drug use should not be a one-time occurrence or a one-way process. Conversations about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs are not like inoculations that can protect children for all time. Talk with your children often as they grown from preschool to adulthood.

 

COMMON CONCERNS

 

"I don’t want to be a hypocrite…"

What if you smoke, enjoy the occasional cocktail or experimented with drugs once yourself? This is a legitimate concern, but it should not dissuade you from communicating honestly with your child and sharing what experience has taught you. You don’t have to project a perfect image to be an effective communicator!  We are all human, and this is in itself an important message.

"I don’t want to plant ideas in my child’s head…"

Are you concerned that you might inadvertently prompt your child to consider drug use when it wasn’t even in his or her mind to begin with?   Don’t worry, discussions don’t suddenly make children users. In fact, you can safely assume that your child is already aware of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Discussing these topics clarifies information and lets children know your views – it doesn’t invite them to use these substances.

 

"I am uncomfortable with this role…"

There is nothing wrong with sharing your discomfort with your child. No doubt he or she already senses it. An admission from you reassures your child that your anxiety stems from within you, not from something he or she has said or done.

To make the task seem less overwhelming, you may want to share the responsibility for talking with your child with another nurturing adult in your child’s life. This will make it clear to your child that both of you consider this matter important.

 

AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I DISCUSS DRUG USE WITH MY CHILD?

 

Start with preschoolers…
Children at this age are not drug users, but if we talk to them now, before the problem exists, we can have an impact when they are 10, 11 and 12. The foundation for all healthy habits, from eating nutritious foods to using proper hygiene to dressing appropriately for the weather, begins in the preschool years.

While drug use by for children this age may not be a concern, even young children hear about drugs. Unless adults take the time to help children sort through the messages they receive, what they think they understand about drugs may be far from reality. Moreover, because children who resist early drug experimentation are generally adept at problem-solving and self-help, parents need to ensure that the foundations for these skills are laid down during the preschool years.

Preschoolers regard the adults in their life as all-powerful. Perhaps at no other time in their lives is your approval as highly prized or your teachings as well received as during these early years of unconditional devotion. Remember that both as you talk with your children and as you consider what behaviors you model about the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

  • Ask children what they think about a TV program or story-line. Discuss how TV/storybook characters are like and unlike people they know.
  • Discuss how violence and bad decisions can hurt people.
  • Realize that when you use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, you are sending a message endorsing your children's use of these substances.
  • Give children honest praise for their attempts to take responsibility for their own good health.

School-aged children:
The typical school aged child is eager to be independent and grown-up. School opens up a new world to children beyond the closeness of family. As children grow older, friends take on heady proportions, and children seemingly live or die based on their friends’ opinions. Acceptance can be everything. The advent of reading and writing skills will also make your child a global learner. Because peers and reading skills expand your child’s world, messages about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs may be conflicting with the one’s you give your child.

As you talk with school-aged children about drug use, remember that children have a hard time focusing on future consequences – the here and now is what is important to them. They do, however, understand the reason for rules and appreciate having limits in place. This applies to rules about bed times and homework and to no-use rules about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
  • Without putting your child’s friends down, underscore your values and the importance of making decisions that are consistent with these values.
  • Talk with the parents of your child’s friends to determine if they are giving their children messages that are consistent with yours.
  • Let your child know what is allowable at home and school and what isn’t.

Young adolescents…
Between the ages of 10 and 15, children typically move from having good feelings about themselves and their life at home and school to at least some feelings of insecurity, doubt and pressure.

With the many dramatic changes taking place within them, young adolescents look to one another for support. "The group" defines what they should wear, what music they should listen to and what activities should occupy their time. It can be very threatening for parents to see the peer group’s values assuming such importance in their child’s lives. Still, children do not relinquish their powers of thought. They approach problems systematically, try to see things from different perspective, have a marked sense of right and wrong and are ready champions of justice.

When looking at drug and alcohol use, parents must recognize that young adolescents are easily swayed by what their peer group feels is appropriate. Self-doubt can also make youth vulnerable to the "quick fixes" of tobacco, drugs and alcohol. However, with expanding social consequences, young people may view the refusal to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs as a civic responsibility. Young adolescents are also concerned about their appearance. If they believe drug and alcohol use will impair their looks and health, they are unlikely to be tempted by these practices.

  • Don’t abandon your child to the peer group, even though you may feel this is what they want.
  • Base drug and alcohol messages on facts, not fears.
  • Emphasize how drug use affects the things that are important to young adolescents such as sports, driving, health and appearance.

 

 

LISTENING STRATEGIES

 

Create a climate in which your child feels comfortable. Your non-verbal cues will send messages to your child, so consider the position of your chair, the tone of your voice, eye contact and facial expressions.

Give your child an opportunity to talk. Stop talking and give your child sufficient time to complete his or her thoughts and process what has been said.

Demonstrate interest by asking appropriate questions. Questions can help you clarify your child’s thoughts and suggestions. Be sure that you are interpreting what has been said correctly.

Listen to the complete message. Listen to the total message before forming a response.

Encourage your child to talk. Use door-opening statements ("You seem distracted today…" or "Tell me what is going on…") that invite a response.

Focus on content, not delivery. Avoid being distracted by your child’s poor grammar or manners. It is what is being said that is important.

Listen for main ideas. Try to pick out the conversation’s central theme.

Deal effectively with emotionally-charged language. Be aware of words or phrases that produce anxiety and trigger emotions.

Identify areas of common experience and agreement. Note similar experiences of your own or offer a shared point of view to communicate acceptance and understanding.

Deal effectively with whatever blocks you from listening. Be aware of personal blocks that may prevent you from hearing what your child is saying.

 

TALKING WITH YOUR CHILD ABOUT MARIJUANA

 

Is Marijuana Really a Problem?

Teen marijuana use has surged since the start of the Nineties. Between 1992 and 1995, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds using marijuana doubled. And the younger the age group, the greater the percentage of increase.

Each year, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research queries 50,000 high school students about their drug habits. In 1995, 28.7% of tenth graders reported trying marijuana at least once. In 1991, just four years earlier, that same survey found that only 16.5% had experimented with marijuana. For eighth graders, the percentage of students trying marijuana went from 6.2% in 1991 to 15.8% in 1995.

Teens themselves put the number of adolescent marijuana users much higher. Typically, they estimate that three out of four high school students have tried marijuana and that at least one teen in four is a regular user. While these estimates have little statistical value, they indicate how teens view their peers.

Should You be the One to Talk to Your Child?

 

It is clearly established that parents are in the best position to talk with their children about drugs. While the schools have an important role to play, they cannot do the job alone. The choice to use or refuse drugs is heavily steeped in values. You alone are in a position to make sure your child knows what you think is important. Teachers can provide information, but it is a parent’s job to provide a context in which this knowledge can be applied. Parental ideas and discipline do more to shape the views of children than any other influences in their lives.

Although many parents have no problem talking to their children about such highly addictive drugs as cocaine or crack, they have a difficult time discussing marijuana. This is because the case against harder drugs is clear-cut. One would be hard-pressed to come up with an argument justifying the use of these substances. Marijuana, however, is a different matter. For many parents, it is not in the same category as cocaine or crack. Moreover, marijuana is something many parents have themselves experienced.

This raises two issues. First is the question of risk. Is marijuana all that harmful? After all, you yourself may have smoked marijuana and are none the worse for the experience. Second, but perhaps more important, is the question of hypocrisy. Isn’t it hypocritical to warn children against a drug that you yourself have used?

Let’s address the second issue first. If your approach is, "Do as I say, not as I do," you are indeed being hypocritical. However, if you openly discuss your experiences with your children, you are being honest, not hypocritical. All of us have done things we regret. Offering children an opportunity to learn from your experiences is a wonderful part of being a parent. Moreover, seeing you in human terms makes it easier for your children to relate to you and the message you are giving them.

Of course, you can relate just as well to your child even if you’ve never smoked marijuana. After all, you didn’t have to burn yourself on the stove in order to teach your toddler not to touch it.

Is Marijuana Really Harmful?

Now let’s consider the issue of marijuana’s harmfulness. If you ask most teenagers, they will tell you that marijuana is safe to use. Though school drug education programs have been telling them since the fourth grade that marijuana can have serious side effects, many teens believe the dangers are greatly exaggerated. "No one has ever died from pot," is a common teenage rationale for using marijuana.

True, people aren’t likely to die from an overdose of marijuana. However, marijuana is what’s known as a gateway drug. This means that those who smoke marijuana are predisposed to go on and experiment with more powerful and dangerous drugs. The first drug experience of most users is not likely to be shooting up heroin or smoking crack.

In addition, teens who use marijuana are also more likely to use alcohol and cigarettes. And the combined use of these substances has more serious health consequences than the use of any one of these substances alone.

Moreover, marijuana itself is not the harmless high many teens and parents think it is. For one thing, it is not the same substance young people were smoking in the Sixties and Seventies. Today’s marijuana is far stronger. This means that it is both more potent and has longer-lasting side effects. Consider the following facts.

  • Marijuana impairs short-term memory and the ability to concentrate—abilities we all recognize as important for success in school.
  • Marijuana slows reflexes and coordination and also impairs the ability to judge distance, speed, and time —abilities essential to safe driving. Many teenagers, who would never drink and drive, think nothing of driving stoned.
  • Regular use of marijuana causes such respiratory problems as bronchitis, sore throats, and coughs.
  • Because marijuana is typically inhaled deeply, many experts believe it may cause more long-term damage to the lungs and heart than cigarettes.
  • Marijuana contains more cancer-causing agents than cigarettes.
  • While marijuana is not addictive in the way that cocaine and other more potent substances are, long-term use can lead to compelling dependence.

One final fact you should know is that the age at which children first try marijuana has been dropping sharply. Thirty years ago, many youngsters who tried marijuana did so as a symbol of rebellion and unity with the youth movement. Today’s reasons for youthful experimentation are not much different. Rebellion and a desire to be "cool" still prompt a good deal of marijuana use. Thirty years ago, however, most users were in their late teens or early twenties. Today, survey data puts the mean age of first use at barely 14 and preteen use has become commonplace. Obviously, the younger the age of first time users, the more immature and less capable they are of making responsible life decisions.

What to Say

Here are some questions you might discuss with younger children:

  • What is marijuana and why is it illegal?
  • What are the side effects of marijuana?
  • What are the rules at home and school about marijuana use?
  • How do movies, books, and music sometimes show marijuana in a favorable light?
  • How can you pick supportive friends who are not into drug use?

For teenagers, you might want to discuss these topics:

  • The effects of marijuana on school work, driving, and attitude
  • Marijuana dependence
  • How to resist peer pressure
  • How to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Dealing with stress without drugs

 

HELPFUL EXAMPLES OF PARENT-CHILD DIALOGUES

 

Your child says….

Your first response may be to blurt out…

A better response would be…
Timmy has started smoking but his parents don’t know I’m going to call Timmy’s mother. She has to be told and that’s all there is to it. How do you feel about Timmy starting to smoke and his parents not knowing?
Pot can’t be all that bad for you because I’ve seen kids who use it and they’re fine. It’ll be bad for them if they get caught and end up in trouble with the law. I’d like to share with you some of the information I read about the effects of smoking marijuana over time.
You lived through the 70’s. Why don’t you let me live through my decade without your interference. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did. Sharing my experiences and listening to yours are among the most important things I can do for you as a parent.
Nobody else has parents this strict. You’re still living in the Dark Ages. One day you’ll be down on your knees thanking me. How would you like me to be? What do you think would be most helpful to you?
How can you tell me not to smoke when you inhale two packs a day? Isn’t that awfully hypocritical? Don’t you dare talk to your father like that. I know I’m not providing you with a good example. I’d very much like to quit.

Drug Facts  (click on the following) PDFs

 

Faces of METH

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question: How do I know what the penalties are for possession or distribution of a particular illegal drug?

 

Answer: Even lawyers oftentimes have to look up the potential penalty for a particular type of drug. And for each drug, the penalties differ depending on whether the suspect is charged with possession or distribution or possession with intent to distribute or manufacturing. And once you know what drug you’re looking for, and whether the suspect is charged with possession or distribution, it can still take quite some time to muddle through the lengthy

provision of Title 40 of Louisiana’s criminal code to find what you’re looking for.

 

The following chart has been created as a helpful guide for determining the penalties for common street drugs which are possessed and distributed illegally:

 

COMMON DRUGS AND PENALTIES

 

MARIJUANA 40:966

 

·         1st Possession: 6 months parish jail and $500 fine

·         2nd Possession: Up to 5 years with or without hard labor and up to $2,000 fine

·         3rd Possession: Up to 20 years with or without hard labor

·         Possession over 60 pounds 5 to 30 years hard labor, fine of no But less than 2,000 pounds less than $50,000 nor more than $100,000 (5 without benefit)

·         Possession of 2,000 pounds 10 to 40 years hard labor, fine of But less than 10,000 pounds less than $100,000 nor more than $400,000 (10 without benefit)

·         Possession over 10,000 pounds 25 to 40 years hard labor, fine of not less than $400,000 nor more than one million dollars (25 without benefit)

·         Distribution, cultivation or 5 to 30 years hard labor, fine up to possession with intent to $50,000 distribute

 

COCAINE 40:967

 

·         Possession of cocaine: Up to 5 years, with or without hard Labor and a fine up to $5,000
·         Possession of 28 grams 5 to 30 years hard labor and a fine to 200 grams not less than $50,000 up to $150,000(5 without benefit)
·        Possession of 200 grams 10 to 30 years hard labor and a fine to 400 grams not less than $100,000 up to $300,000 (10 without benefits)

·         Possession of over 400 grams 15 to 30 years hard labor and a fine not less than $250,000 up to $600,000 (15 without benefits)

·         Distribution of cocaine or 2 to 30 years hard labor, with the first 2 possession with intent to years without benefits and fine up todistribute $500,000

·         Manufacture 10 to 30 years hard labor, fine up to $500,000 (10 without benefit)

 

COUNTERFEIT DRUGS 40:971.1

 

·         Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and fine up to $5,000

 

FORGED SCRIPTS 40:971

 

·         Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and fine up to $5,000

 

SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSES 40:982

 

·         Enhanced penalty for any offenses Twice the time and twice the fine under this part (includes everything except drug paraphernalia, marijuana, and monies derived from drug transactions)

 

DRUG FREE ZONE 40:981.3

 

·         Possession or distribution within Not less than 1/2 up to the maximum 1,000 feet term with the minimum mandatory term to be without benefits

 

ATTEMPT AND CONSPIRACY40:979 ½

 

·         the time and 1/2 the fine

 

MISCELLANEOUS DRUGS

 

VALIUM (DIAZEPAM): Schedule IV 40:969

 

·         Possession of valium Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and fine up to $5,000

·         Distribution or possession with Up to 10 years hard labor and fine Intent to distribute valium up to $15,000

 

ECSTACY (MDMA): Schedule I 40:966

 

·         Possession of MDMA (ecstacy) Up to 10 years hard labor and fine up to $5,000

·         Distribution or possession with Imprisonment at hard labor for not less intent to distribute MDMA than 5 years up to 30 years and fine up to $50,000 (5 without benefit)

 

XANAX (Alprazolam): Schedule IV 40:969

 

·         Possession of alprazolam (Xanax) Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and fine up to $5,000

·         Distribution or possession with Up to 10 years hard labor and fine up intent to distribute alprazolam $15,000 (Xanax)

 

METHAMPHETAMINE: (Speed): Schedule II 40:967

(Amphetamine)

 

·         Possession of methamphetamine Up to 5 years, with or without hard (Speed) labor and fine up to $5,000

·         Distribution or possession with Imprisonment at hard labor for not intent to distribute less than 2 nor more than 30 years

·         Methamphetamine (Speed) and fine up to $50,000 Possession over 28 grams but Not less than 5 years up to 30 years Less than 200 grams of and fine of not less than $50,000

·         Methamphetamine (Speed) up to $150,000 (5 without benefits) Possession over 200 grams but Not less than 10 years up to 30 years Less than 400 grams of and fine of not less than $100,000

·         Methamphetamine (Speed) up to $350,000 (10 without benefits) Possession over 400 grams of Not less than 15 years up to 30 years

·         Methamphetamine (Speed) and a fine not less than $250,000 up to $600,000 (15 without benefits) Manufacturing or production of Not less than 10 years up to 30 years

       ·         Methamphetamine (10 without benefits) and a fine up to $500,000

 

 

PERCODAN (Oxycodone): Schedule II 40:967

 

·         Possession of percodan (oxycodone) Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and fine up to $5,000

·         Distribution or possession with Imprisonment at hard labor for not less intent to distribute percodan than 5 nor more than 30 years and fine up to $50,000

 

LORTAB (Dihydrocodeinone): Schedule III 40:968

 

·         Possession of Lortab Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and a fine up to $5,000 or both

·         Distribution or possession with Up to 10 years hard labor and a fine intent to distribute Lortab up to $15,000, or both

 

TESTOSTERONE (Steroids): Schedule III 40:968

 

·         Possession of Testosterone Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor, and a fine up to $5,000, or both

·         Distribution or possession with Up to 10 years hard labor and a fine intent to distribute testosterone up to $15,000, or both

 

CODEINE: Schedule II 40:967

 

·         Possession of Codeine Up to 5 years, with or without hard Labor, and a fine up to $5,000, or both

·         Distribution or possession with 5 to 30 years, hard labor, and a fine intent to distribute codeine up to $50,000

 

KETAMINE (Special K): Schedule III 40:968

 

·         Possession of ketamine Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and a fine up to $5,000, or both

·         Distribution or possession with Up to 10 years hard labor and a fine intent to distribute ketamine up to $15,000, or both

 

PHENCYCLIDINE (PCP): Schedule I 40:966

 

·         Possession of phencyclidine Not less than 5 up to 20 years, with or without hard labor and a fine up to $5,000, or both

·         Distribution or possession with Not less than 5 up to 30 years, at hard intent to distribute phencyclidine labor, and a fine up to $50,000, or both (5 without benefits)

 

PSILOCYBIN (Mushrooms): Schedule I 40:966

 

·         Possession of psilocybin Up to 10 years hard labor and a fine up to $50,000, or both

·         Distribution or possession with 5 to 30 years hard labor and fine up to intent to distribute psilocybin $50,000, or both (5 without benefits)

 

HEROIN: Schedule I 40:966

 

·         Possession of Heroin Not less than 4 nor more than 10 years, and a fine up to $5,000, or both

·         Distribution or possession with Not less than 5 up to 50 years hard intent to distribute heroin labor and a fine up to $50,000, or both (at least 5 without benefits)

·         Possession over 28 grams but 5 to 30 years hard labor and a fine not less than 200 grams less than $50,000 up to $150,000 (5 without benefits)

·         Possession over 200 grams but 10 to 30 years and a fine not less than less than 400 grams $100,000 up to $350,000 (10 without benefits)

·         Possession over 400 grams 15 to 30 years and a fine of not less and over than $250,000 up to $600,000 (15 without benefits)

 

DARVOCET (DEXTROPROPOXYPHENE) Schedule IV 40:969

 

·         Possession of Darvocet Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and fine up to $5,000

 

DEMEROL (PETHIDINE) Schedule IV 40:967

 

·         Possession of Demerol Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor and a fine up  $5,000

       ·         Distribution or possession with 5 to 30 years at hard labor and a fine intent
               to distribute Demerol up to $50,000

 

POSSSESSION OF FIREARM (Or dangerous weapon)

IN THE PRESENCE OF ILLEGAL DRUGS 14:95(E)

 

·         Not less than 5 years nor more than 10 years, without benefits

 

POSSESSION OF ILLEGAL DRUGS IN

PRESENCE OF A MINOR (2 year age difference) 14:91.13

 

·         6 months and $500.00

 

INTRODUCTION OF ILLEGAL DRUGS

INTO A PENAL INSTITUTION 14:402 E(5)

 

·         Up to 5 years, with or without hard labor

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